Digital Extremes launches an ARG to lead in to Fortuna

With Warframe‘s Fortuna expansion releasing in November (could be any time now!), Digital Extremes has released an Augmented Reality Game (ARG) as a lead in to the new content.  This is playing out on Twitter and Discord, and has now been running for almost two weeks – initially kicking off with some cryptic tweets early in the week of November 22.

These tweets eventually led to a Discord invite, which was time-limited to 60 minutes, only allowing the most fortunate entry to the newly-created “Solaris United” Discord server. This server was closed to commenting, and effectively worked as a way to communicate with fans – essentially letting the game bleed into reality, with users of the Discord effectively taking on their Tenno persona in order to take communication from the rebel faction in Fortuna.

This rebel faction is, of course, Solaris United, and is headed up by the enigmatically named “The Business” – not necessarily a shady character, but definitely a cybernetically-augmented one (as are many Solaris, as it turns out – these body augmentations are a requirement in order to be able to work in the harsh conditions of Venus).  This server would provide some basic communication initially, with some further invites being sent out sporadically, each with time-limited access. Over time, tens of thousands of players have joined the server.

At first, The Business shared a code – SOLARISUNITED – which, when entered on the promo codes page on the Official Warframe website, would provide players with a Solaris United sigil (PC only at the time, but it has now been opened up to all platforms). Players were then encouraged to equip the sigil, and share images of this across Social Media platforms along with the hashtag “#LiftTogether”. This, of course, refers to the Fortuna theme song, which was released at the announcement of the expansion, and essentially refers to the plight of the Solaris.

Many thousands of shares later, and The Business shared more information – mostly lore-related, and mostly to help players understand the context of the Solaris United – exactly why are some of the Solaris rebelling against their Corpus taxmen?

You see, Fortuna is actually a debt-internment facility. The Solaris people owe a debt to Nef Anyo and his Corpus taxmen, and so they work to rebuild The Orb Vallis in order to repay their debts. However, the debts are unconscionably large, and the punishments equally severe – should a Solaris miss a payment, Nef Anyo would send his taxmen to “repossess” an item of great value… Usually a body part – which they supplied, I might add (yes, the debt is actually incurred as a result of the Solaris needing to buy cybernetic implants – which they acquire from Nef Anyo). Miss enough payments, and the Solaris is effectively destroyed, piece by piece.

The ARG component has taken the form of codes or files that need to be deciphered. At first, The Business sent a sound file that seemed (to me, at least) to just be a bunch of noise. Players were able to manipulate this in various ways, which led to the discovery of an image -see below.

Since that initial image was discovered (and subsequently translated – the strange text is in the Corpus language, and the alphabet of which is already known), several other files have been transmitted, deciphered, and translated – the ones released to date have  been shared below. 

Much has been learned so far, each image providing more insight into the plight of the Solaris. The second image, for example, led to further understanding of the Corpus “punishments”- the worst of which being “brain shelving”. Here, for grievous acts of defiance (or large payments missed), the taxmen would basically destroy the individual and keep their brain in storage – until friends or family pay the debt IN FULL. At that time, they would turn over the brain to the friends and family, who could potentially bring their loved one back to life… provided they could afford the cost of a new fully cybernetic body rig…

The most recent transmissions have discussed the approach of “Little Duck” – a friend and agent of Solaris United, who will be coming over to Fortuna, bringing with her a cache of items that will be unlocked on release  (again, via a promo code to be used on the Warframe website). 

As a result, while the ARG is fun and provides a bunch of insight into the lore behind the Solaris United, it’s also going to provide us with some goodies! So far, the cache is expected to include 100 Ducats, 5 Orokin Cells, 3 Nitain, 1 Orokin Reactor, and 1 Orokin Catalyst – of course, more may be added over time, as the ARG is still ongoing!

A lot has been happening in the Discord to date, and it’s certainly not over (although from what I can tell of a potential story arc that would be covered in an ARG of this type, I think it’s closing in on the end). It has definitely been entertaining, and kept us all busy, but most of all, it’s really provided some key insight into one of the main factions of Fortuna… So consider me primed and ready!

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